In Brief

Boris Johnson warned to avoid senior Tory backbencher

Prime minister snapped holding memo advising against meeting alone with lockdown critic Graham Brady

Boris Johnson has been photographed carrying a memo thought to have been written by a senior aide that warns against meeting a senior Tory backbencher alone.

The note was spotted by waiting press as the prime minister returned to Downing Street following Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, The Times reports. 

The memo said that Graham Brady, chair of the influential 1922 Committee,  had asked for a “catch-up”, but added that “it is important that at least the Chief [whip] stays in the room” during the meeting. 

“Whilst he will seek more regular meetings (let me handle this and don’t agree to anything), he will almost certainly raise the Covid response and the lockdown,” said the note, entitled “Meeting with Sir Graham Brady – Wednesday 13th May 2020”.

It was signed “Enjoy, BG” - initials thought to stand for Ben Gasgoine, the PM’s political secretary. 

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The memo also documents Brady’s public criticism of the government’s coronavirus lockdown strategy

Addressing the Commons last week, Brady said the British public has been “too willing" to comply with the social distancing measures and that “arbitrary rules and limitations of freedom” should be removed “as quickly as possible”, as PoliticsHome reported at the time.

Other members of the 1922 Committee have also voiced concerns about the lockdown. At a tense meeting last month, the backbenchers urged the government to lift the lockdown in early May or risk devastating the economy, according to the BBC.  

One 1922 member told the broadcaster: “If we don’t do that, we really will see thousands of businesses go under.”

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